<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=542164116319225&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Respiratory Illness & Air Pollution

How Does Air Pollution Impact Respiratory Health?

Air quality, both good and bad, strongly influences your respiratory health. Poor air quality can have a wide range of potential health effects depending on the type of pollutant and the amount of exposure. These health effects include causing illness or exacerbating existing health problems. Respiratory illnesses can affect anyone, but may disproportionately impact vulnerable populations, such as young children, the elderly, and the sick. The health effects caused by air pollution can have both short-term and long-term consequences.

Respiratory Illnesses

Air pollution can cause acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) health effects. It is important to note that poor air quality can induce both acute and chronic respiratory problems, which have different symptoms.

Acute respiratory effects

An acute respiratory effect is an almost immediate reaction to poor air quality. The symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, irritation of the eyes, nose, mouth, or skin. These symptoms will typically go away soon after leaving the polluted area. However, people who are more sensitive to air quality or are regularly exposed to pollution may have more serious symptoms. Some may experience loss of consciousness.

Any area with air pollution can potentially induce an acute respiratory response. Places with a lot of busy industry or traffic can have air pollution, but people should also be mindful of the pollution levels inside.

Chronic respiratory effects

Chronic respiratory illnesses develop as a result of repeatedly being exposed to poor air quality over time. In these cases, symptoms do not fully subside, even after leaving the polluted environment. They can cause or exacerbate health problems that affect the lungs and heart. These illnesses include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Lung cancer, among others.

Respiratory illnesses caused by repeated, long-term exposure to poor air quality are often due to pollution in the home, at work, or other frequently visited places.

Protecting Yourself From Respiratory Illness

The best way to prevent respiratory illness is to limit exposure to air pollution, and take appropriate precautions when exposure is unavoidable. On days when air quality is bad, wear a mask, use an air filter, close the window, and avoid areas with lots of traffic. Take time to test your air quality and understand what your risks are in places where you spend a lot of time. Use proper safety equipment at work, and properly store or get rid of pollutants at home.  

Air pollution comes in many forms, and you may not be able to avoid exposure completely; however, you can be proactive about monitoring your air quality and your health. Respiratory illnesses are a result of a variety of genetic, behavioral, and other medical factors; in order to understand what your specific risks are, consult with a medical professional.

Share this article

Keep reading...

Pollution Masks

What Are Pollution Masks? Pollution masks are worn on the face to protect you against harmful air pollutants present in the ambient air.
December 3, 2018

14 Strategies to Reduce Air Pollution in Your Home

Our home is meant to protect us from the outside. However, most people don’t realize that our homes don’t always protect us from air pollutants.
June 12, 2019

How Air Pollution Impacts Kids

What Is the Relationship Between Air Pollution and Children?
December 16, 2018

Kaiterra is a global company on a mission to end air pollution. We make air monitors that empower people to make small changes in their everyday lives and help with researchers, NGOs, and governments around the world to end air pollution at the source.